I want to start off this awesome event by thanking Nichole from YAReads for letting me know about the 2016 Debut Authors Bash and inviting me to be a part of it. It has been a fantastic time: getting to know my author, getting to know her book, and now getting to share some content with you that I think is a whole lot of fun.
I got to do an interview with Anna Breslaw, the author of Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here. I remember seeing this book blurbed somewhere along the lines, probably on Goodreads, and I hadn't looked into it indepth until I realized that 1) I wanted to read more debuts this year 2) it's a book about a fangirl and what happens when her fandom suddenly goes away and 3) that Anna really gets what it means to be a fan, whether you're a fanboy, fangirl, whatever.
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…
It also helped when I saw that this book was recommended for fans of some of my favorite books and television show: Fangirl, Veronica Mars, Daria, etc. I think if you have ever had a fandom that meant more to you than a passing stranger might understand, you should definitely take a look at Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here.
In the mean time, check out my interview with Anna below:
When you were Scarlett's age, what was your version of Lycanthrope High?
That’s easy: Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Season 2 in particular, and the high school years, were my everything. And like Scarlett, it really informed my writing a lot. It’s probably why I gravitate towards grounded fantasy/sci-fi metaphors for our modern-day experiences, and also why I try to make all my characters complex and well-rounded, following the Whedon example of setting up and then knocking down stereotypes. Particularly female stereotypes.
As a Hufflepuff, what is the one thing you want people to know about being in that house, or one misconception you'd want to clear up?
There are SO MANY MISCONCEPTIONS I would like to clear up! First of all, being a Hufflepuff doesn’t make you dumb. Loyalty does not equal low intelligence. (And frankly, you’re probably a Slytherin if you think it does.) I think of Hufflepuff basically as Gryffindor minus the constant need for glory and attention. We put our heads down and do the work without expecting a parade, and value fairness and empathy above all things. Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff and he was the MAN. OK, done.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
While writing Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, did you have any particularly low moments where you weren't sure you were doing right thing? If so, how did you get past them?
The fanfiction parts were a struggle at first. I wasn’t sure what the tone should be. I wanted it to be different from the first-person story, but not so different the reader would feel like they weren’t getting what they signed up for. I also wasn’t sure how serious of a concept Scarlett would come up with—like if the story would be more melodramatic and romantic or more of a grounded high-school satire. My editors Jessica Almon and Marissa Grossman at Penguin Random House ended up suggesting the direction I went in, which was more of the latter than the former, and felt really right for the book.
What piece of press has surprised you the most since Scarlett Epstein's been released, whether it be a review, a starred rating, etc.?
People have said it’s refreshing and uncommon that my main character is from a lower-middle-class single-parent family and Jewish. That was funny to hear, since it’s basically my background. And I got a starred Kirkus review, which was an absolutely delightful surprise.
What celebrity meet and greet would have you fan girling the most?
Oh my God, a lot. Kyle Chandler, Amy Schumer, Conan O’Brien... but honestly I’d probably flip out over most of them. It’s easy in theory to pick your favorites and say you’d be really blase about anyone else, but if I met like, The Rock, or Martin Short, or the lady from the Progressive commercials, I’d probably lose my shit.
What about Scarlett, do you think, is the most relatable to girls her age?
I think the feeling of being different from other people your age and just waiting for your “real life” to start is pretty relatable. To girls who like to read, at least. I think part of what makes someone a really voracious reader as a teenager is the excitement of immersing yourself in a bigger world than your own. No matter where you are, or how unfulfilled or ostracized you might be feeling, books give you this sense of infinite possibility that makes you see there’s a better life waiting for you. It was definitely like that for me, anyway. Sometimes I think reading a lot saved my life, in a way.
If you could cross Scarlett's book over with another one, which would you choose and why?
That’s such a good question. Maybe Me And Earl and the Dying Girl. I think Scarlett and Greg are alienated kindred spirits in a way, and would be capable of having a conversation entirely in pop-culture references (and yeah, she’d probably have a crush on him).
Do you have a favorite writing method? Pen & paper, mobile phone, etc.?
I write in Microsoft Word, but jot down little idea lightning-bolts regarding whatever I’m working on in a pad I keep next to my laptop. Which inevitably get lost or forgotten whenever I turn the page. It’s a bad system.
Which do you feel is more difficult, the writing stage or the editing stage?
Editing is like 1000% harder, at least for me. It’s a challenge to look back at the big picture and try to see the structure/plot with fresh eyes and improve it, which is why editors are so invaluable.
Do you think you'll write more books about fangirls (or fanboys!) like Scarlett in the future or try something different?
I may revisit fan culture at some point, but for now I’m definitely onto different stuff. While I was writing the book, I found myself really interested in the inner life of Ashley the popular girl, so I think my next protagonist’s going to be a queen-bee type “mean girl” who’s smarter and more complex than she lets on. And the love story might be more front-and-center this time.
About the Author
Anna Breslaw is a New York-based freelance writer and author who previously wrote for Cosmo and has also been a contributing writer for Jezebel and Glamour.com.
She has a weakness for Kyle Chandler and Devil Dogs.
Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is her debut novel.
Thank you to Anna for answering my questions and giving us a little more insight into who she is as an author and a fangirl.
Please don't forget to check out all the other amazing stops on the 2016 Debuts Authors Bash Tour starting June 1, tour dates listed below. Enjoy the rounds!
My Book Addiction – Kristy Acevedo
SleepsOnTables – Michele Bacon
Adventures in Writing – Jennifer DiGiovanni
Sci-Fi and Scary – Margaret Dilloway
YaReads – A. E. Conran
BookCatPin – Anna Michels
Alice Reeds – Sarah Alexander
The Hermit Librarian – Anna Breslaw
Me, Myshelf, and I – Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Pulp and Mystery Shelf – Kim Savage
With Love for Books – Kat Helgeson
Let Me Tell You A Story – Amy Allgeyer
Gabriella M Reads – Tobie Easton
Bookish Wanderlove – Emily Martin
Brittany’s Book Rambles – Robin Reul
Kirstyes – Books, Occupation – Magic! – Jennifer Mason-Black
Diane’s Book Blog – Michael Miller
Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists – R.S. Grey
Ink Sisters Write – Brooks Benjamin
21st Century Once Upon A Times – Lucy Keating
With Love for Books – Amber Smith
Swoony Boys Podcast – Mia Siegert
Vi3tBabe – Judy Sheehan
Diane’s Book Blog – Sarah Ahiers
Cover2Cover – Kerry Kletter
The Candid Cover – Jenny Moyer
Lost in Lit – Katherine Fleet
Alice Reeds – Jenny Manzer
Gabriella M Reads – Ami Allen-Vath
Two Chicks on Books – Nicole Castroman
Lisa Loves Literature – Janet B. Taylor
Downright Dystopian – Jeff Garvin
The Hardcover Lover – Ashley Herring Blake
Here’s to Happy Endings – Meg Leder
Vox Libris – Catherine Lo
YaReads – Scarlett Kol
The Book Cellar – Julie Hammerle
Ink Sisters Write – Kenneth Logan
Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists – Jenna Welch
Go Read A Book – Natalie Blitt
Curling Up With A Good Book – Lindsey Klingele
Across the Bookiverse – Kathy MacMillan
The Reading Nook Reviews – Rebecca Podos
The Book Beacon – Andrew Brumbach
The Turning Pages – Shannon M. Parker
Book Lovers Life – Patrick Samphire
Bibliophilia, Please – Gordon Jack
With Love for Books – Harriet Reuter Hapgood
the bookdragon – Marisa Reichardt
Cue My Muse – Laura Shovan
Rockin’ Book Reviews – Bryan Methods
Kirstyes – Books, Occupation – Magic! – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Arctic Books – Laura Tims
Book Lovers Life – Sarah Schauerte Reida
Bibliophilia, Please – Julie Eshbaugh
Mundie Kids – Robin Yardi
YaReads – Martine Lewis
Little Book Heaven – Michelle Andreani
YaReads – Carrie Firestone
Me, Myshelf, and I – Peter HoffMeister
Emily Reads Everything – Emily Skrutskie
Downright Dystopian – Christian McKay Heidicker
Brittany’s Book Rambles – Kerri Maniscalco
Platypire Reviews – Nanci Turner Steveson
My Book Addiction – Jennie K Brown
Sci-Fi and Scary – Jennifer Bardsley
Milky Way of Books – Ava Jae
Rachel’s Book Reviews – Jeff Zentner
Write Writing Written – Lily Anderson
Two Chicks on Books – Kim Zarins
Pink Polka Dot Books – Heather Smith Meloche
Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists – K.C. Held
Wishful Endings – Elizabeth Briggs
Cue My Muse – Lee Gjertsen Malone
Read.Sleep.Repeat. – Rahul Kanakia
YaReads – Dee Romito
With Love for Books – Jessica Taylor
YaReads – Kurt Dinan
A Perfection Called Books – Erin Summerill
21st Century Once Upon A Times – Riley Redgate
My Book Addiction – Janet Sumner Johnson
YaReads – J. Keller Ford
What’s Write About This – Erin Teagan
Alice Reeds – Aditi Khorana
Latte Nights Reviews – Mia Garcia
Pink Polka Dot Books – Emily France
Emily Reads Everything – Sonya Mukherjee
YaReads – Everly Frost
Little Book Heaven – Paula Garner
Latte Nights Reviews – Kathleen Glasgow
Bookish Wanderlove – Karen Hattrup
My Bookish Year – Erica M Chapman
The Eater of Books! – Julie Buxbaum
The Book Cellar – Jill Diamond
YaReads – Dana Elmendorf
Pretty Deadly Reviews – Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
My Book Addiction – Erin Petti
SleepsOnTables – Parker Peevyhouse
The Phantom Paragrapher – Julie Leung
The Book Cellar – Evangeline Denmark
The Reading Nook Reviews – Kathryn Purdie
Gabriella M Reads – Stephanie Scott
Read.Sleep.Repeat. – Lisa A. Koosis
The Book Beacon – Claire Fayers
YaReads – Cheryl Blackford
Bookish Wanderlove – Jenn P. Nguyen
Bibliophilekid – Emily Cox and Nicole Allen
BookCatPin – Laura Stampler
Pandora’s Books – Audrey Coulthurst
My Book Addiction – Abby Cooper
Downright Dystopian – Katie Kennedy
Hannah Plus Books – Tom Crosshill
Book Lovers Life – Cynthia Reeg
Media Geeks Unite – Tricia Clasen
Tigersbooksandme – Destiny Soria
Mindjacked – Margot Harrison
books are love – Caleb Roehrig
Emily Reads Everything – Janet McNally
Platypire Reviews – Tara Sims
YaReads – Isabel Bandeira
On Starships and Dragonwings – Traci Chee
Doodle’s Book Reviews – Meghan Rogers
Pandora’s Books – Kathleen Burkinshaw
Bibliophilia, Please – Bridget Hodder
Swoony Boys Podcast – Krystal Sutherland
Alice Reeds – Karen Fortunati
My Book Addiction – Mike Grosso
The Reading Nook Reviews – Lindsey Roth Culli
Book Lover’s Life– Abigail Johnson
YaReads – Sarah Glenn Marsh
What’s Write About This – Wade Albert White
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